Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

3 ways to find the time you need for social media marketing

Lack of time is probably the biggest barrier stopping small businesses from using social media more effectively. It can even stop them from getting started at all. 

Even I sometimes find it hard to make time for social media, which may seem odd given that much of my business is based on helping others to use it more effectively. 

Maximising the potential of social media as a marketing tool means maintaining a consistent presence. So dropping out of the social channels for a few days, or even weeks, when you’re really busy, can do real damage to your brand.

If you’re serious about wanting to get results from social media marketing but finding the time is a real issue, I have some bad news - you can’t add extra hours to the 24 hour clock.

But I also have good news - there are other ways of finding more time for social media. 

1. Choose one social network and ignore the rest

A lot of small businesses getting started with social media are beaten before they begin, because they know they can’t keep up with all the different networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and the rest.

The answer is to choose one social network and focus all your efforts on that. 

By concentrating on one network, you give yourself a better chance of really learning how it works and of building a rapport with a network of contacts. Later you can take what you’ve learned and apply it to another network, although you may not need to, because you’re getting enough business through the one you’ve mastered.

Selecting the right social network 

How do you choose which network to focus your attention on? Use the one you’re most comfortable with. If you enjoy using Facebook, stick with that. Or maybe you find Twitter easier to engage with. 

You’ll do better on a network you enjoy using than on one you struggle to understand. It’s easy to find out which social network you’ll find easiest to master: how do you feel about it when you log in? 

If it feels like a chore, something you have to do but would rather not, then it’s probably the wrong network to be on. You’ll get the best results from doing something you enjoy, so concentrate your efforts on the social media network you feel most comfortable with.

Here is a useful summary of the leading social media networks from The Next Web.

But my preferred network is not where my customers are

While I advise you to concentrate on the network where you feel most at home, it’s true that another network could offer you access to more potential customers. So you may want to temper my advice with your knowledge of your own market.

But it’s still easier to learn on a network you already know and there will be potential customers on every network. 

Many of the skills and routines you develop for one social network will transfer easily to another, when you want to broaden your range.

It’s better to be effective on one social network than ineffective on several.

2. Get training in how to use social media

Training is a real time-saver because it grows your knowledge over a short period of time. It’s an investment in time (and money) but training is a short-cut to knowledge, saving you time in the longer-term.

The best form of training, in my opinion, requires the following:

  • A small, eager group of learners
  • A trainer with both deep knowledge and the ability to communicate that knowledge effectively
  • Being in the same room as the trainer
  • Each learner having hands-on access to social media during the training

Being in the same room as the trainer makes it easier to ask questions. Having other learners present encourages idea sharing.

If taking the time out to attend formal training is not possible for you, there are plenty of online training options. Another alternative is to buy a book teaching you how to use social media. 

My book, ‘Become Really Effective on Twitter in Just 5 Days’ began life as a set of step-by-step notes that I gave out on training courses. 

We all learn in different ways, so take this into account when thinking about what kind of training to sign up for. 

3. Make a plan of your social media activity

You’ll save time on social media by working to a plan. Like training, it requires a little investment of time up front, but you’ll get that back.

A social media activity plan is not complicated. Putting a plan together requires writing down the following:

  • What content do you have to share on social media? (blog posts, images, video etc)
  • What messages do you want to give out on social media? (special offers, new products, events etc)

Now match the images with the messages. So if you’ve written an article giving customers advice on how to solve a specific problem, find a nice picture of the product that fixes the problem. Or of someone using or installing the product. You can then post a link to the article, along with the image.

Now that you know what messages and content you could use on social media, you’re probably prompted to think of other content you could create in order to share.

Coming back to the plan, put some thought into when you’re going to share this content. You may want to have a different theme for each day, week or month. 

Don’t forget that effective social media marketing involves more than just making others aware of your products or services. It’s about building a network of contacts and engaging with others.

Your plan needs to include proactively making connections with others and sharing content posted by others. 

If all this is starting to sound like it will take a lot of time - it won’t if you put together a good plan. Having decided what resources you have, prepared a schedule of what you’ll post and when, and decided your approach to engaging with others, you’ll find it easier to commit just a small amount of time to social media every day.

This short video from Twitter will help you to think about putting together a simple content strategy.

One reason why so many businesses struggle with social media is because they’re too busy to think of something to post. By preparing a social media plan, that problem goes away because you already know what messages you’ll be posting on a particular day.

Other time-finding tips

There are a host of other ways to find time for social media in your business, including:

  • Delegating some or all of your social media tasks
  • Using tools for scheduling, retweeting and replying 
  • Outsourcing your social media 

All of these could have a place in your business, depending on how social media marketing fits into your overall business strategy.

What’s really important is that if you’re serious about using social media, you give it the time it needs. 

You can start today, perhaps by taking a little time out to put together a simple plan.

If you want to see a change in what social media marketing can do for your business, you need to change the way you manage your social media.

So make a change for the better, today.

By Andrew Knowles 

We're now publishing all new social media blog posts on the Dorset Social website

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